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Gina Haspel, a veteran CIA clandestine officer picked by U.S. President Donald Trump to head the Central Intelligence Agency, is shown in this handout photograph released on March 13, 2018. (CIA/Handout via Reuters) RC1B163843E0

For the record

Reports clarify CIA director nominee’s role at Thailand ‘black site’

March 16, 2018

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump nominated Gina Haspel, the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, to take over the top spot at the CIA. If confirmed by the Senate, Haspel, 61, would become the first woman to head up the spy agency in its history. But in the wake of Trump’s tweet announcing her nomination, several news reports surfaced claiming that Haspel, who’s worked at the CIA for more than three decades, mostly as a clandestine agent, oversaw waterboarding at a ‘black site’ she ran in Thailand in 2002 as part of the stepped up effort by the U.S. to stop terrorism following 9/11. Those reports, some of which Women in the World cited in its coverage of Haspel’s nomination, are now being retracted, corrected or clarified.

According to ProPublica, Haspel never oversaw the waterboarding of terror suspect Abu Zubaydah, who was captured in Afghanistan and transported to the secret base in Thailand. Zubaydah was subjected to a battery of brutal interrogation techniques, now widely considered to be torture, and was reportedly waterboarded 83 times. But that all took place prior to Haspel taking over leadership of the site, which happened in October of 2002.

After news reports circulated about what she oversaw and when at the black site, which was code named “the Cat’s Eye,” former colleagues spoke out to correct the record, and clarify where the confusion over Haspel’s involvement with waterboarding originated. In short, Haspel remains a controversial figure who oversaw the torture of other suspects detained at the site and carried out orders to destroy video footage of extreme interrogations. She is expected to face tough questions on her role in the CIA’s harsh interrogation programs at her Senate confirmation hearing, but she did not oversee the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah in 2002.

Read the full story at ProPublica and The New York Times.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that the clarifications of previous reports dealt only with the timeline surrounding Abu Zubaydah, and not other terror suspects who were detained at the CIA black site in Thailand while Haspel was in charge there.